Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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How to lift your business to a whole new level

If your business has been spinning it’s wheels or it’s growth is slower than it should be, this post is just for you.

I’m going to show you how to get your business flying, based on 2 questions that every successful business needs to answer. Yes, I’m going to help you find your answers too!

Here are the questions:

  1. What do I want to achieve with my business?
  2. Am I willing to pay the price?

What do you want to achieve with your business?

Many small business owners have no clear idea of what they want to achieve. They say things like they want a successful business or they want to be wealthy, but they never get specific. Here’s the thing: You can’t know if you are on track or not, with no clear destination.

The key, is to get specific. Describe in detail, what you want to achieve with your business.

A great way to get clear on this, is to ask yourself the following question: If my business was perfect in every way, what would it look like?

Then, start writing your answer down!

Avoid general terms and use specifics. Also, use numbers in your answer whenever possible.

For example, include things like:

  • How much you want your business to generate in revenue and profits over the next year, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years.
  • How much you want to earn.
  • How much you want your business to sell for, if your exit route is to cash in at some point.

Then, describe things like the type of clients or customers you want, what your typical work day would look like and where your business would be located, etc.

Build as clear a picture as possible and include everything that matters to you.

Once you have the specifics written down, it’s time to answer the next question.

Are you willing to pay the price?

The challenge with this question, is that business owners tend to give the wrong answer. We tend to say we work hard and that we work long hours.

That is not what the question asks!

The question is about our willingness to do what’s required in order to succeed. It asks us if we’re willing to leave our comfort zones… again and again. Paying the price for success means doing 100% of what’s required, not cherry-picking the things we feel comfortable with. It means committing to pay the price of success in advance, with no guarantees.

Here’s why we make the extra effort

It looks like this:

  • Success belongs to those who take time to decide exactly what they want to achieve and who then determine to pay the price for success.
  • Those with less clarity and less commitment, find themselves working hard and making too little progress.

Interestingly, although the difference in the rewards between those approaches is immeasurable, the extra effort required is relatively small.

The good news is that as you become more familiar with leaving your comfort zone, it gets easier and easier. Equally, the motivation to pay the price becomes greater, when you start to see the results and rewards coming in.

Tip: I recommend you read this — What everybody ought to know about Comfort Zones.

How to build a great business, doing things YOUR way

If you want to work with better clients and never need to compete based on fees again, here’s something to consider.

Doing things your way

The moment you stop offering a similar service to your competitors, you stop competing with them. The great news here, is that no matter what industry you are in, you can do things your way and build a highly profitable niche of your own.

Here are 4 examples, from very different industries:

  • The accountant, who set up a forum for his clients, so they can network together, help one another and buy from one another.
  • The coffee shop owner, who offers customers poetry evenings and creative writing events.
  • The dentist, who provides classes for people who have an irrational fear of dentists.
  • The gardener, who not only keeps your garden looking great, but also provides all the garden consumables you need and delivers them.

How to make it work for you

Think about your ideal client. Consider their challenges and needs. Now, think of a new service that could help them with those challenges. Alternatively, look for additional, valuable elements, which you can add to one or more of your existing services.

Tip: A great place to find ideas you can use, is to look outside your industry for inspiration. Something that’s extremely common in one industry, is often unheard of in another.

If you need a little help getting your ideas into action, I strongly suggest you read this.

How to put your ideas into action

There are 2 types of idea people:

  1. Those who have lots of ideas.
  2. Those who have lots of ideas… and do something with them.

Putting your ideas into action

The rewards in business always go to those, who do something with their ideas. Here’s how they tend to get their ideas into action:

  • Just like everyone else, they get an idea.
  • From this point on, they act very differently to the average person.
  • They write their idea down, whilst it’s still fresh in their mind.
  • They chew on it for a while.
  • Then, if it’s worth working on, they develop a simple plan to get it out of their head and into the world.
  • They take the first step on that plan. Then the next…

Failure and criticism

The key difference between those who work on their ideas and those who do not, seems to be their mindset regarding failure and criticism.

Those who act on their ideas, see failure as feedback. They are fine learning from the feedback they get from shipping their ideas. Those who act on their ideas see criticism as a natural part of achieving anything worthwhile. They regard criticism as a sign they are doing something that’s making a splash.

It’s their mindset, not the value of their ideas, which makes all the difference.

Try this

I’ve written about fear and failure a lot in the past. This particular post is one you may find useful. It shows how to turn fear into a valuable business asset.

How stories help you grow your business

I recently bought 2 boxes of chocolate chip cookies. I don’t like chocolate chip cookies. My family are not especially keen on them either. So, what motivated me to buy them?

People buy the story

When a child from the village school comes to my door selling cookies, it feels different than when a shop is selling them. Even if the product is the same, the story behind the cookies is what we pay for. I wanted to support the local school, so I now have 2 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

Your business has a story. The question you need to ponder, is whether your story is motivating enough. Here are some ideas and examples to help you.

Who are you selling to? The answer may surprise you!

Are you selling to yourself? That may seem like a silly question, yet it’s one of the most important questions in marketing.

Why? Because business owners tend to market their products as if they were selling to themselves — when they should be marketing to their prospective clients or customers.

Now, if you are a lawyer and your prospective clients are lawyers, that works fine. However, if you sell to people whose needs and wants are different to your own, you need to change your marketing so it’s focused on them.

For example:

  • Read the marketing of most accountants and you will find lots of statistics and graphs. This is what accountants love, but not their prospective clients. The prospective client wants to know what the accountant can do for them and their business. They want to know why they should hire this accountant and not an equally qualified competitor. They want the story behind the stats.
  • Read the marketing of most web designers and it’s filled with jargon and buzzwords. They talk about things like; HTML5, Java, CSS, standards compliance and responsive design. These are things designers love to talk about, but not their prospective clients. Their prospective clients want a professional looking site. They want a site that is an asset to their business.

Anyone using that approach is leaving money on the table. Don’t let it happen to you.

Match your message to their wants and needs

Take a look at your marketing messages, from your prospective client’s vantage point. If possible, ask a prospective client to read your marketing and tell you what it says to them. Determine if you’re marketing based on what they need to hear or on what you think is important. Also, check to see if you are using their language or yours. Sometimes we get so used to industry words, that we forget they are meaningless and confusing to everyone else.

The better you communicate how valuable your services are, the easier you will attract more, great clients or customers.

Recommended Reading: Here’s another good reason not to use buzzwords in your marketing.

How to get all the help you and your business need

I’d like to share an idea with you today. It’s about how to get all the help you and your business will ever need.

Of course, we see people doing it wrong every day. Strangers, asking us to do things for them.

  • They ask us to connect with them on Linkedin.
  • They ask us to tell our friends about their business.
  • They ask us to retweet their Twitter messages.
  • They ask us, via a spam email, to subscribe to the newsletter they just sent us.

The list goes on and on… strangers making selfish demands.

Selfish demands don’t work

Selfish demands succeed only in irritating people. I receive around a dozen emails a day, from total strangers who expect me to write blog posts about their product or service. I refuse. Always. Like most people, I don’t respond positively to selfish demands from strangers.

So, why is it that some people have no problem getting all the help they need?

Why we eagerly helped Jenny and felt great about it

When a friend of mine launched her new business, she was inundated with people who wanted to help. If you knew Jenny, you’d know why. She’s one of the most helpful people I have ever met.

The launch of her business was an opportunity for me and many others, to repay her kindness and support.

The power of reciprocity

This need to return someone’s kindness is sometimes referred to as reciprocity. And it’s extremely powerful. It’s why the process of giving and receiving, starts with the giving part. It’s why we earn the money… then get paid.

Selfish demands fail because they attempt to do the opposite. When the guy emails me and asks me to post his infographic on my blog, it’s 100% about him.

  • He gets exposure to my amazing readers.
  • He gets a valuable link, from my blog to his site.
  • He gets his company name in front of thousands of people.
  • All I get is the penalty of linking my blog and reputation to a stranger — A stranger I know nothing about, other than he’s the kind of asshole, who spams people with selfish demands.

Those who demand strangers to do things for them, face a lot of  disappointment. Not only do they fail to get what they demand, they get something they didn’t ask for — a toxic reputation.

A better mindset for business owners

The smartest people are always building relationships with others. They keenly look for ways to contribute. They do this, without knowing (or caring) if they will need that person’s help in the future. That’s the mindset, my friend Jenny has.

In short: Before you expect people to be motivated to help you or your business, make sure you’ve invested in them, first. Remember, give and take starts with the giving part.

PS: If you found today’s post interesting, I recommend you read this: 3 Mistakes that make you look bad and damage your business.

Are you using the right kind of marketing?

Marketing, internet marketing

Many small business owners make the mistake of using the wrong type of marketing for their business.

For example, did you know there is a huge difference between Internet marketing sites and marketing sites? Well, there is. If you’re using ideas from the wrong type of site, you’re wasting your time and your money. As you will see from an example I am about to share, it can damage your reputation too.

First, here’s what you need to know about these VERY different types of marketing site.

Internet marketing sites

Internet marketing sites focus on how to make money online. They mainly sell (and show you how to sell), affiliate marketing products, software, online courses, ebooks, premium forums, etc.

They usually market their products to you… and show you how to make money, doing what they do. That’s why there are so many of these sites out there. They are intended for people who want to sell low priced, Internet only products or services.

Marketing sites

Marketing sites, including Jim’s Marketing Blog, are a lot less common. They focus on ideas to help you increase sales and grow a successful business. Most, like my own, don’t cover affiliate marketing or “make money online” products or services at all.

The wrong type of marketing for an accountant

I was prompted to write about this, after being emailed by a new reader. She’s an accountant, who started her business just over a year ago. She contacted me after a marketing consultant identified why her marketing wasn’t working. She wanted me to share her experience with you, to stop others from making the same mistake.

Here’s an excerpt from her email, published with her permission:

“I read a ton of big name internet marketing blogs and did what they said; at least the things that seemed to make sense to me. Anyhow I invested over $2000 on a bunch of marketing software, on-line courses and forum memberships. None worked for me. Finally I instructed a local marketing guy to get expert help. He took a look at my website and emails and said “woah!!”

[...] He explained that I had been marketing my service like some nasty $50 affiliate product!!”

She ended up with a site that’s hurting her business and damaging her professional reputation. I took a look at her site and here’s what I saw:

  • Pop-up boxes.
  • Blog comments from affiliate marketers, using SEO loaded keywords instead of their names.
  • Nasty looking ads for 2 affiliate products.
  • Sensationalist blog post headlines, designed to attract drive-by readers.
  • Pinch pages, to sell her services.
  • An automated Twitter account, which she told me is part of a Twitter resharing network.
  • References to joining her list instead of becoming part of her community.

All in all, she had wasted thousands and done nothing more than make her site look cheap. She’s now in the process of unpicking a year’s worth of damage to her reputation and her business.

Use the right type of marketing for your business

The type of marketing used to sell cheap software or affiliate products, is totally different from the kind of marketing required to sell high fee, specialist, one-to-one services. The level of trust required to hire a coach, accountant, lawyer, therapist or consultant is huge.

When a service provider wants to attract new, high quality clients, the make money online approach to marketing is not only ineffective, it’s toxic.

In short: Match the marketing you use, to the type of business you want. Unless you sell Internet marketing products or affiliate products, think twice before using ideas from Internet marketing sites.

How to attract customers… from your competitors!

So, you’d like more customers or clients. The question is, why should they switch to you, rather than carry on with their current provider?

Why leave their comfort zone?

It takes effort for people to switch from one provider to another. The motivation to switch to you needs to be compelling. It needs to inspire them to leave their comfort zone — to dump their familiar, safe, current provider and risk the unknown.

We know that being a little less expensive, a little faster or a little better isn’t enough. Why? Because marginal differences have very little pull. People need to see an obvious, clear, meaningful reason to switch providers.

This will help you get it right

Take a look at your business from the mindset of a prospective client or customer. Look at the reasons you provide, to motivate them to leave their comfort zone and switch to you.

Considering the perceived risk involved with them switching providers, are the reasons you give truly compelling enough? If not, what meaningful, measurable benefit could you add, which would make switching to you feel:

  • Less risky.
  • Less hassle.
  • More beneficial to them than staying with their current provider.

TIP – Every provider claims to offer great customer service and to go the extra mile for their clients. Focus on developing a meaningful, measurable and motivating difference. Get this right and it can be a game-changer for your business. Yes, it’s that important.

PS: Here’s how to stop your competitors taking clients from YOUR business: How to use the lock-in effect to retain your clients.

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